God’s Three Word Answer

Author: Linda L. Kruschke

I’ve seen prayer answered in miraculous ways. God constantly reaches beyond my expectation, even when there is no expectation at all. He answers and is faithful to provide what I need.

By now, I should assume an answer will be forthcoming. Yet His latest response to a prayer took me by surprise.

I confessed to my Bible study group that my focus on a few of my mother-in-law’s seemingly-insensitive comments over the years had clouded my perspective. I had allowed a tiny seed of bitterness to take root and had convinced myself that she didn’t really like me. I knew I would be spending time with her over the holidays and needed prayer to have a better mindset when we were together.

Several days later, I had the opportunity to share my beloved nativity collection with a friend. As I described each set, I heard myself telling the story of how my mother-in-law had given me a ceramic nativity she made when pregnant with my husband.

Bitterness Linda L. KruschkeThen came the story of the myrtle-wood nativity that my mother-in-law’s mother brought back from Israel. As I mentioned she could have given it to one of my three sisters-in-law or a niece, but instead gave it to me, I realized how special she must consider me. God used these reminders of her love over the years to begin to uproot that bitter sprout Satan wanted to flourish. My attitude softened.

We ended up having great visits both at Thanksgiving and New Year’s weekend. In the morning on New Year’s Day, she asked me a question I didn’t expect. “You must have some good memories of your mom?”

“Not really,” I replied. With chapter three of my memoir front and center in my thoughts, I continued, “She had cancer the first time when I was only eight or nine, and then again a year later. She lost her sister and her mom a few years before that. She was always sick, it seemed, and I don’t remember her ever smiling or being happy.”

The subject changed and the morning continued, with showers, breakfast, and packing. Then we all went out to lunch before we had to hit the road for home.

As I usually do before we leave my in-laws’ house, I gave her a hug. “Thanks for coming,” she said. “I love you.”

I love you. With those three little words God completed His answer to my prayer. I don’t ever remember her saying those words to me before.

She has shown me in many ways over the last thirty-two years that she loves me. She’s actually been mom to me for more years than my real mom, who died when I was twenty-three. She has always treated me like a beloved daughter.

In that moment I also knew that my real mom loved me, too, even though it didn’t always seem like she did and she didn’t say it much.

It’s funny how God knows the things we need to hear to heal our doubting hearts. He reminded me to focus on the loving acts of others, and not on the careless things someone might have said. After all, we all are prone to let an thoughtless word slip from our lips once in a while.

Linda L. Kruschke BitternessAre you holding onto a careless remark and bearing a grudge against the one who said it? Have you allowed a seed of bitterness to sprout? Has a past hurt clouded your perspective of how much someone really loves you? Listen to this wisdom from Colossians 3:12-14:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Seeds of bitterness destroy relationships, or at least make them more difficult. Will you ask God for His three-word answer to uproot this noxious weed in your life today? It is my prayer that you will seek His power to forgive and His grace will fill your heart today.


Readers, If you need prayer to heal from bitterness,  tell us in the comments and we will pray for you.

Linda_2017_01Linda L. Kruschke is the author of My Name Is Beloved, winner of the Unpublished Memoir category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest, as well as self-published author of two poetry books. She is a wife, mother, active member of her church, and former Bible Study Fellowship leader. After struggling through years of major clinical depression and finding God’s healing grace, she is now a fearless follower of Christ, living in the assurance of her salvation and God’s love. She blogs at Another Fearless Year and Broken Believers.
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In 2017…

Happy New Year Anchored Voices readers! We are hopeful this blog finds you well and rejuvenated as we march onward into 2017.

For me, a new year brings about anticipatory feelings of hope and elation. I reflect upon the works God completed in me throughout the past year, and I prepare my heart for what is to come in the next 365 days.

in-2017-i-will-wait-upon-the-lordFor many, a new year equates to a fresh start. Thankfully, as someone who loves Jesus, I am able to experience a clean slate every day, not just once a year. Psalm 51:10 says “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” I relish in the fact that I have complete freedom in Christ, and I am allowed error.  Perfection is too heavy a weight for my soul. In my erroneous moments I have rest for though God sees me for who I am, a sinner, He chooses me anyway. Romans 5:8 shares “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There is nothing that I can do that will separate me from God. How liberating!

2016 rocked a lot of people’s worlds. It possessed its blessings, but also brought forth many mixed emotions, including terror, despondence, and sorrow. As I am on the cusp of 2017, I have decided to forgo New Years resolutions; instead, I am resolved to focus on these mantras:

When chaos surrounds me, as it surely will in 2017, I can cling to the hope I have in Jesus. I can seek after Him. I will aim to put others above myself, and do so sacrificially with my time and money. I will hide God’s word in my heart, so that I will not sin against Him. When I need answers, I will look to Scripture and learn more about God’s character, because He never changes. I will be rooted and established in love, and show more kindness and forgiveness to those who need it most. I want to be a peacemaker and reconcile adversaries. I want to point those to Jesus, and embolden them to cling to Him. Lastly, in 2017, I will wait upon the Lord, renewing my strength in Him, and continue to run the race set before me with endurance. By focusing upon these deep and holy truths, I remove the pressure to perform my resolutions, and instead look to God and His glorious grace and goodness.in-2017-renewal


Readers, What truths are you holding to as we enter 2017? We pray you will learn, grow, and be blessed by our Savior.

sarah-dohman-square Sarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Twitter.

 

 

Christmas Moments Amongst the Mundane

Last year, when Christmas tunes began to ring out from the radio, our mostly quiet family of three became a raucous party of seven. My husband and I have one teenage daughter and, while we weren’t on the list for emergency foster care, four siblings (ranging in ages from 7-15) were delivered to our home during a crisp late fall morning so they could spend the holidays together, connected.

As we folded new family members into daily life, I realized they knew very little of the true story of Christmas. The way in which we celebrated Christmas was drastically different from what these kids commonly expected. The holiday season became a time of learning about these kids and their traditions, and articulating our own. Christmas for us tends to go deeper than the kinds of food, type of music, and activities we participate in. As we explained that, we began to see opportunities woven throughout our days to speak the truth of God’s grand plan to seek out, love, and mend hearts.

God instructed his people in Deuteronomy 6:4-8 to teach their children of Him in all aspects of life, to let the everyday moments become meaningful.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 6:4b-8

We too can speak the good news throughout our days, sharing that the Savior came in the form of a fragile baby who would change the world. There may be no other season that presents more opportunities to connect the dots between our lives and the story of God in a way that deeply matters to our children, our neighbors, and our own souls.

To be honest, I didn’t plan to have any of the conversations that came about. Instead, the light of the world began to illuminate in the moments I least expected. In the car the youngest exclaimed “Jesus is the King of Love,” as she remembered the lyrics to a song she had heard. On another occasion, as we were hurrying along, the preteen asked me in a public restroom, “Why is it important that Jesus was born. Wasn’t he just another baby?” I didn’t expect to get to explain the whole story of redemption as we washed our hands and talked over the whir of the electric hand drier, but I had the privilege to do so.

Isn’t that exactly how God intersects with our lives? The moments we could never plan are when He makes Himself known.

Though these siblings were able to be reunited with family by the time Christmas morning arrived, I came away from the season acutely aware of the meaning of each moment. The real story of Christmas just needed to be pointed out. Not in a grand production, or lengthy speech, but in the simple moments wherever the Holy Spirit brought about a connection.

Today, may we ask God to illuminate the places where His overarching story of glory and grace melds the mundane moments with the eternal epic. May God connect the dots of the busy with the dots of the meaningful. Let us ponder with awe the baby in the manger and share with glad and sincere hearts of the hope He brings. May this season be steeped in moments that deepen our faith and point us to Christ.

~~~
Readers, How do you share the true meaning of Christmas with those around you? Tell us in the comments.

b0de0-holly2bsquareHolly is a wife, mother of one, and foster mother to many. She seeks to glorify God in all she does, for all her life. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She welcomes people into her life, into her heart, and into her home with hopes of offering encouragement. You can find more from Holly here at Anchored Voices or at her blog Called to Restore.

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Hope for the Nativity Set

Author: Holly Hawes
Shiny lights and glittery things are spilling out of windows around the world as we prepare for Christmas. Even the stingiest of Christmas decor purists have begun to decorate. Others, like me, are turning up the Christmas music with a triumphant cheer because NO ONE can tell us any longer that it isn’t time to begin celebrating Jesus’ birthday.
As I have been waiting for the Christmas season, I’ve been thinking about why I love the decorating part of Christmas so much.  In the end, it comes down to the special items that are visual reminders that Jesus is the hope the world needs. When I pull out each piece from storage, I am reminded of long-ago Christmas’ and the stories of each nick-knack fill my heart.
The headless shepherd who resides at my grandma’s house is one of my favorites. My most cherished Christmas tradition: Gluing on his head. Every year we pull out the now ragged box containing the brightly painted nativity from the 1970’s, complete with newspaper reused year after year from the first time it was gingerly wrapped and stored away. I remember reattaching that poor shepherd’s head with several kinds of glue as well as sweetened condensed milk. No luck; every year he still loses his head. We are completely unwilling to give up on the shepherd. He cannot be replaced!

Though the paint is wearing, this nativity is one of the ways that my family cherished Jesus and retained that Christmas about Him. That nativity, set on the child size table in the corner of the entryway wasn’t shiny and isn’t new, but it produced wonder in my heart as a child. I loved that we got to play with it. It wasn’t so precious that it had to be high up on a shelf or protected from tiny hands. Jesus, Emmanuel, was God with us. Down at the level of a little child.
This year I bought a nativity of my own, made of melamine to withstand time and be used over and over. The style is different but the goal the same. I started the wise men in the Kitchen to let them slowly make their way to discover Jesus. But sure enough, one of those wise men took a tumble when the littlest discovered them making their perilous journey across the desert of my countertop. He too, lost his head, but his sacrifice was worth it because it spurred questions from little voices. Who are these guys? Why are they going to Jesus?

It’s time to pull out the sweetened condensed milk, carry on this tradition that has found us, and as we bind our wise man’s head together we bond with each other. Each on our own trek to move closer, draw near, and discover where and who Jesus is.

~~~

Holly is a wife, mother of one, and foster mother to many. She seeks to glorify God in all she does, for all her life. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She welcomes people into her life, into her heart, and into her home with hopes of offering encouragement. You can find more from Holly at her blog Called to Restore.

When Holiday Expectations Go Unfulfilled

Author: Sarah Dohman

I was born the day after Christmas.  In fact, I was born at 2-something in the wee hours of the morning.  Had I come any sooner, I would have been a Christmas baby.  Every year growing up, and well into my 20s, my family would sort of roll the celebrations into one continuing party.  Happy Birthday Jesus! Happy Birthday Sarah!  This tradition roared on for many years.

Until one year, it stopped.

At least in the way I expected it to be every year. God had whispered into my older brother’s heart and led him to Virginia for an internship after dental school. There in the state that claims to be the “Mother of Presidents,” he met his girlfriend, now wife, and decided to not come home for Christmas, nor my birthday.  For the first time in 27 years, my constant partner in Christmas and birthday celebrations would not be in Oregon to join in the fun.  My holiday expectations were shattered.  I didn’t tell him at the time, but my heart ached.  A piece home as it had been, was missing.

For many during the holiday season, expectations go unfulfilled.  Maybe you’ve recently been through a divorce.  Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one.  Your family cannot afford the Christmas traditions you’ve come to know and love each year.  You have to work on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or the day after.  All your relatives canceled on your holiday party last minute.  You had to say goodbye to a furry friend.  For all one knows, your family is celebrating in various parts of the country this year, never to be that nuclear unit again.

When holiday expectations go unfulfilled, I cannot help but think of dear Mary and Joseph, Jesus’s parents.  I imagine Mary had dreamt about her wedding day, and the anticipation of children to come shortly thereafter.  I imagine Joseph envisioned a life with Mary, one where he worked a steady job, provided for his family, and led an honorable life.

Their expectations, much like ours, flew out the window.  In Matthew 1:18, the Bible shares of Mary and Joseph being engaged.  This was no normal engagement, as Mary “was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.”  Scandalous!  So much so, Joseph wanted to throw in the towel and sneak away quietly.  Thankfully, God knew and understood Joseph’s fears and told him via an angel in his dream that Mary had conceived from the Holy Spirit.  Joseph was to have a son, and he was to call him Jesus, who was to save his people from their sins.  The angel’s message fulfilled a prophecy from the Old Testament, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

As the birth of Jesus neared, Mary and Joseph were traveling in a small town called Bethlehem, where Joseph was from.  They were to register here, as he was of the house and lineage of David.  Then in the sleepy town of Bethlehem, Mary was laboring.  She and Joseph were not able to obtain a conventional bed for the birth of their son.  Their expectations for a cozy, clean birth, were upset by the arrival of their son in a barn, filled with animals.  In Luke 2:7, it says “she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”  Mary didn’t get to shower after her long and laborsome birth story.  But in her presence, there was a son like no other.  One who would fulfill all expectations.  The One who would be the King of Kings, Immanuel, Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords.

When holiday expectations go unfulfilled, I know I can rest in the One who fulfilled expectations of everlasting hope, joy, peace, and love.  Jesus, fully man, and fully God, came into this world humbly, and left this world to be cared for by His Holy Spirit.  He will accomplish all that is written of Him.  He will be our comforter, He will be our deliverer.  If ever your heart is to be sad or forlorn this holiday season, cling to the Hope we have in Jesus!

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

Author: Chara Donahue

‘Twas the week before Thanksgiving and all through the house,
people were nauseous and I looked at my spouse.

The children were stirring, up late in their beds,
with buckets, in case, next to their heads.

Daddy disinfected and I took a nap,
trying to elude a nasty virus’ trap.

Then the night before the meal, the pre-heat buzzer was beeping,
reminding us to cook while little ones were sleeping.

Away to the oven the pies would be taken,
and soon after sunrise the turkey’d be bakin’,
but “Who would be well, and who would be sick?”
was the question that lingered, as the clock ticked.

We kept prepping the food for the Thanksgiving table,
while praying the tummies would “please, stay stable.”

The best laid plans diverted by things unforeseen,
…but that isn’t the end so pass the caffeine.

We’re better together – so together we’ll be!
We’ll eat what we may, and then play Yahtzee®.

We’ll watch movies, and football, maybe a parade,
Charlie Brown might make it, if his story gets played.

Rolls and applesauce, with Turkey and pie,
each meal hand-picked, to singly satisfy.
Whether sick or well, we’ve been given each other:
sister, brother, father, and mother.

“I am grateful for life and my family today;
for grace, for love, for Jesus!” I say.

We treasure the memories that the day will have made,
not too soon, too quickly, or too easily fade.

We’ll heed this blessed lesson, to take through the years,
one destined to bring joy, and save many tears.

Things don’t have to be perfect for things to be good,
and don’t always turn out how we think that they should.

Focus on the praiseworthy, the noble, and true,
and look to the One, that will bring you through.
Don’t give into despair, but fight for delight.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good night!